Two years and two months. That’s how long it took to turn my PhD thesis into a book.
Let me talk about the two-year journey it took to turn the dissertation into a book, including the rejections and edits to get to this stage.
I was awarded my PhD on the Arab Spring in 2020. I used some time to visit Saudi Arabia and published an article drawing on my thesis. By the time I returned, COVID-19 had started in the UK and Boris Johnson announced lockdown. The priority thus became mental health for me and for many of my friends, family and colleagues. I thus focused on my new job as lecturer at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) before approaching university presses.
I had made a list of certain presses and while most replied with praise of my manuscript, I was also told that the market on the Arab Spring was saturated. I then turned to another press where I’d had more contact. This press was positive to adding my manuscript on the Arab Spring to their series. The editor seemed very enthusiastic. After sending in the proposal I waited for some months. After contacting the editor and receiving no response I decided to move on. COVID-19 has affected workload for so many editors and I do not blame the editor for lack of contact but a decision had to be made. I approached another academic publisher. What happened next would be of huge help to the final book.
The new publisher decided not to go ahead with publication. However, the manuscript still went through peer review. Under advice from a colleague, I requested the comments. The next month was spent rewriting and restructuring the manuscript in response to very useful feedback. It was also such feedback that encouraged me to keep trying and to insert personal growth stories from Jordan and Saudi Arabia (including being arrested).
After sharing my proposal with a colleague, I contacted Palgrave Macmillan. This time, it was a strong yes and I was rewarded with a book contract.
The process of turning the thesis into the book from Palgrave.
Because I had received extensive feedback from other publishers’ peer review, there was little editing required to meet Palgrave’s requests. The peer reviewer from Palgrave had mentioned changes that by then I had already made, including
removing the theory and method chapter and merging them with other chapters and
removing a suggested addendum. Originally, I had considered including the article on my time in Saudi Arabia during COVID as an extra item but the reviewer felt that it may affect the overall holistic feel of the book and its coherence.
These above changes were the main edits needed that had already been done. Once I submitted the changed manuscript to Palgrave, I received a contract to sign electronically and was assigned a wonderful editor, Supraja Ganesh. From there, I was tasked with creating an index for the book, which would contain all significant elements the book covered so that researchers could easily find required information for their own research. The creation of an index is often an author’s responsibility and can take time, but once major edits are made there is less of a rush to complete it. With the final manuscript delivered, I then provided a 300-word blurb and began to secure endorsements for the book. Often, reviewers who have enjoyed the book may be willing to write a short sentence of critical praise that will appear on the front page of the book but also be used for marketing on the book webpage, Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble and anywhere else the book is sold. I quickly secured endorsements from various established scholars across the US and the UK as I had repeated contact with them through previous publications and activities during my time in the Middle East or during my PhD.
Finally, from signing the contract to the release of the book it took four months, with a launch date of September 2022. I was thrilled to hold a physical copy of the book sent to me by October 2022. Publishing what was actually my second book (the first was based on my MA thesis regarding private military companies) was certainly an accomplishment and allowed me to revisit my PhD at a time when I was lecturing on the same theoretical concepts for my work with the United Nations. It also helps as a media commentator to keep publishing on events in my field. Not only is my work mentioned during my TV appearances but each book becomes its own platform for promotion of what I love: research and political analysis.
• Time to do the PhD and write the thesis: 3 years.
• Time to start a PhD and be awarded: 4 years.
• Time from being awarded a PhD, being told by contacts that the thesis should be a book
and getting a book contract: 2 years and 2 months.
• Time from signing the contract to the book’s release: 4 months.
Build your network while doing your research so you can market your book.
The point is this, to all PhD students: you can do it.